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It’s no great secret that Amy Winehouse’s best music invariably comes about when she a) collaborates with otherwise nauseating super-producer Mark Ronson and b) channels the great female singers of the Spector-inspired Sixties.

With this in mind, it should come as no great surprised that Amy’s cover of Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party,’ which features production from the still very nauseating Ronson, is what people who are prone to boorish sports metaphors might call a “home run” or perhaps even a “slam dunk.” Covering a genuine classic is always a risky business, but as with her cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid,’ it’s almost effortlessly brilliant.

‘It’s My Party’ is muted to appear on the upcoming Quincy Jones tribute, Q: Soul Bossa Nostra.

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I know it’s unfashionable and frightfully rude to stick up for major labels these days – and goodness! I take no pleasure in doing it – but a recent post by industry litigator Gary Stiffelman on The Comet raised a number of insightful points.

Stiffelman argues for the continued usefulness (note: not essential goodness or moral worth) of major labels, making the case that while the music industry pie might be shrinking, the major labels continue to perform a necessary service that nobody else can replicate. Basically, he says that every major musical artist (measured in monetary terms) has benefited hugely from the major label model, and this is as true today as it was 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.

He dresses it needlessly in legal jargon (“disintermediation” is just a fancy way of saying “unnecessary” – he is a  lawyer after all) so I’ve picked out the essential points. He states:

1. [T]he supposition that the internet levels the playing field and allows every aspiring artist to launch his or her own superstar career is naïve at best, and dangerous at worst.

2. I cannot think of any music superstar that came onto the scene during my 60+ year career that didn’t benefit from the efforts and money of a major label.

3. There are always exceptions to every rule, but the labels, for all of…

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 02 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

7 Walkers [Garetful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann & Papa Mali] – 7 Walkers (Response Records)
AfroCubism – AfroCubism (Nonesuch)
Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party (Broken Bow)
Autumn Defense [Wilco's John Stirratt & Pat Sansone] – Once Around (Yep Roc Records)
Bad Religion – Vinyl Box Set (Epitaph Records)
The Big Four: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria [5 CD/2 DVD Set] (Warner Bros)
Black Dub – Black Dub (Jive – R.E.D.)
Black Sheep – From the Black Pool of Genius (Bum Rush Records)
Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas II You (Island)
City Champs – The Set-Up (Electraphonic)
Elvis Costello – National Ransom (HEAR MUSIC)
Dark Party – Light Years (Old Tacoma Records)
Sean E Depp – Catharsis (Study Music)
Destroyer – Archer on the Beach (Merge Records)
Devin The Dude – Gotta Be Me (Real Talk Records)
Neil Diamond – Dreams (Columbia)
Diplo presents – Blow Your Head: Dubstep [Various Artists] (Mad Decent)
Brian Eno – Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp Records) – Cam
Good Charlotte – Cardiology (Capitol)
Helloween – 7 Sinners {EU} (The End Records)
Helstar – Glory Of Chaos (AFM Records)
Huey Lewis & The News – Soulville (W.O.W. Records)
Kokayi – Robots & Dinosaurs (QN5 Music)
Lazer Sword – Lazer Sword (Innovative Leisure Records)

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English metalcore act Architects have been playing a new song entitled ‘Delete Rewind’ on tour in the UK.

The Brighton band have been performing with Norma Jean and Devil Sold His Soul in support, and will release their fourth album, The Here and Now, in January.

A second new song, ‘Day In, Day Out,’ can be heard on MySpace.

Cheers to Steve Gillespie for the tip.

Electric Owls’ 2009 debut Ain’t Too Bright was one of the year’s overlooked gems – so overlooked, in fact, that we disgracefully forgot to ever get around to reviewing it (though I did save all of our souls by putting it on my year-end list).

No such mistakes this time. On November 9, the other band led by Comas frontman Andy Herod, will release an EP Cullowhee Songs and I will not let it go by without even a casual mention. So here is that casual mention.

Lead track ‘When I Was a Flood’ sets the tone, and that tone is a little more aggressive than we’re used to from the band. Ain’t Too Bright was, ironically, quite a bright record – expansive and ebullient with rich, summery chords and tight vocal harmonies offset with broody, fuzzy guitars.

‘When I Was a Flood’ sounds just as big, but the acoustic guitars have given way to sparse, plucked banjo; the vocal harmonies remain, but they’re stretched and disconnected, while Herod’s lead vocal is a bluesy wail rather than a twee holler; the guitar fuzz has been pushed right down the mix to bare background noise. There are lots of little changes that add up to a fairly different-sounding whole, yet it’s still unmistakeably Electric Owls.

Electric Owls – ‘When I Was A Flood’

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(Photos: Loreana Rushe)

As recently as a year ago, this gig would not have been possible – at least in the order in which the acts took to the stage on Saturday night.

Local act Adebisi Shank’s career trajectory has been well-documented in these pages (though whispers of a US release in the offing may well be new), but the rise of Chicago’s Maps & Atlases has been steeper still, from a college band mixing Tera Melos-inspired math rock with freak folk to cracking the Billboard charts with their debut LP, Perch Patchwork, earlier this year. Saturday’s stop in Whelan’s was the final stop on their first European headlining tour – an event drummer Chris Hainey’s parents marked by flying over from the States (and boy did they stick out, as American tourists are legally obliged to do).

It turns out Maps & Atlases weren’t the only ones saying goodbye, though Adebisi Shank will surely be more relieved than sorry to see the back of this country: the Wexford/Dublin trio are to take on Japan for the jillionth time in support of the recently-released This is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank. Taking to the stage around the 8.30 mark (an early start for a two-act gig), the Shank pushed all the right buttons, sounding markedly tighter than they did even a month ago when they headlined the State vs. Nialler9 gig in Dublin’s Mercantile Bar.

There’s an old football…

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It’s either that I get distracted way too easily by shiny things, or it’s the mofukin’ latest video clip for Daft Punk’s Derezzed that just so happens to double for a TRON: Legacy trailer that’s got me hot and bothered right now. Either way, I’m getting my electronic on.

Click it. Load it. Check it.

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Sarah Fimm has always been passionate about her music and sincere about getting it into the hands of as many people as she can. She is constantly making her music available to stream online, and isn’t above giving away albums – as she did a few years ago with White Birds. Even though she is known for trying to share her music whenever it’s possible, her latest endeavor still comes as a surprise for its forward-thinking and the sheer depth of the project. Karma Phala is thirty-one tracks of new and unreleased music that spans her entire recording career, including three tracks from her upcoming fifth album, Near Infinite Possibility. It covers everything from ambient electronics to soulful acoustic rock while maintaining a consistently high quality throughout. In addition to that large quantity of music, Karma Phala also includes a high-quality ‘making of Near Infinite Possibility’ video, a ton of pictures, a personal greeting from Sarah herself and more. As if that isn’t enough, she has been giving the whole thing away for free on 1-gig thumb drives (she is even covering the shipping). Included on this thumb drive is Sarah Fimm’s reason for giving this whole collection away; a mission statement:

My goal is to encourage you to share this music across the world. The livelihood of independent art relies on your consciousness to keep it alive. The only thing I ask is that you continue to use the Karma Phala drive to share

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of October 26 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

2Mex – My Fanbase Will Destroy (Strange Famous Records)
6Blocc – I Dubs Vol. 5 12″ [EP] (6dub)
All Ends – A Road To Depression (Nuclear Blast) {EU}
Jeff Beck – Live And Exclusive From The Grammy Museum (ATCO)
The Big Four: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria [5 CD/2 DVD Set] {EU} (Warner Bros)
Broken Complex – Broken Complex (Broken Complex)
Cap D – PolyMath (All Natural)
Celph Titled & Buckwild – Nineteen Ninety Now (No Sleep Recordings)
Ray Charles – Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (Concord Records)
Chaundon – No Excuses (Traffic Ent. Group)
Chico Mann – Analog Drift (Wax Poetics)
Combichrist – Noise Collection Vol. 1 (Metropolis Records)
Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records – Various Artists [Remastered] (Apple Records)
Conducting From the Grave – Revenants (Sumerian Records)
Crade of Filth – Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa (Nuclear Blast) {EU}
Daath – Daath (Century Media)
Deluka – You Are The Night (RED GENERAL CATALOG)
Diplo – Chasing the Dragon (Mad Decent)
Every Time I Die – Shit Happens: The Series? [DVD] (Ferret Records)
Bryan Ferry – Olympia (Astralwerks)
Firewind – Days Of Defiance (Century Media)
Forbidden – Omega Wave (Nuclear Blast)
Fourplay – Let’s Touch the Sky (Heads Up)
Funker Vogt – Blutzoll (Metropolis Records)

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We all knew it would happen one day.

After clearly signalling his intent with movies like Men In Black and Independence Day (and probably others – what was Bad Boys II about? Did anybody even see it?), there’s not a person on this earth who wasn’t fully aware that “Turncoat” Will Smith had managed to breed with them and it was only a matter of time before his alien offspring descended on this planet to finish us off.

Damn it all, we just didn’t expect it to be this soon.

9-year-old Willow Smith… honestly, it’s one thing a father naming his son after himself – it’s a long established tradition – but a father naming his daughter after himself is plain weird, “alien” even. Anyway, 9-year-old Willow Smith has unleashed her first I Am Legend-sized virus on the world in the form of ‘Whip My Hair,’ a Rihanna-inspired number that’s been around all of 5 minutes but is never, ever going to go away. So get used to it.

Seriously, she’s 9. Her neck hasn’t even fully developed yet. This song is dangerous.

Here’s the video – you’re not going to be able to avoid it so you might as well just get it over with now.

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Friends, family and complete strangers often ask me where the best place is to start discovering the work of Wildhearts frontman Ginger. Usually I’ll say something like “Earth vs. the Wildhearts” or “P.H.U.Q.” Occasionally I’ll throw out a “Valor del Corazon.” One time I even said “Yoni“!

There have been a couple of Wildhearts compilations over the years, and a raft of live recordings that could easily double for best ofs, but until now there’s never been an proper retrospective of the solo output of South Shields’ finest export since Phil Brown.

Celebrating a decade as a solo performer, 10 contains tracks from Ginger’s three solo albums, various singles and side-project Silverginger 5, as well as two brand new tracks: ‘No Way Out But Through’ and ‘This Too Shall Pass.’ Luckily, 16 tracks just isn’t enough, hence 10 (Two): a free digital compilation featuring ten tracks that didn’t make the cut.

Here’s my personal pick of the bunch: ‘The Drunken Lord of Everything,’ from 2005’s grammatically-dodgy Valor del Corazon.

10 is out now on iTunes and in record stores. 10 (Two) is free for download from Bandcamp.

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Los Angeles indie rock quartet Warpaint will release their debut album The Fool on October 26, and record label Rough Trade have kindly made the full record available to stream in full via the delightful embedded widget below.

In addition to being a handy excuse to use the word “widget,” The Fool is a genuinely interesting record, running the line from folky indie rock to shimmering post-rock, with electronics and subtle orchestration a fleeting presence.

Warpaint have just finished a run of dates in the United States in support of The xx and will launch their first headlining tour of Europe on Thursday in Dublin, Ireland.

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of October 19 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Agua de Annique – Live In Europe (Self Released)
Allstar Weekend – Suddenly Yours (Hollywood Records)
A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Autumn, Again (Mis Ojos Discos)
Bad Books – Bad Books (Favorite Gentlemen Recordings)
The Beatles – 1967-1970 (Blue) [Remastered] (Apple Records)
Joe Bonamassa – Joe Bonamassa Live from The Royal Albert Hall (J&R Adventures/Fontana)
Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (Columbia)
Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union (Decca)
Elusive – The New Movement (Elusive)
Eskmo – Eskmo (Ninja Tune)
Sarah Fimm – Karma Phala (Self Released) – Trey Spencer
Girl In A Coma – Adventures in Coverland (Blackheart Records)
Beth Hart – My California (101 DISTRIBUTION)
Zach Hill – Face Tat (Sargent House)
Houses – All Night (Lefse Records)
How To Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse Records)Alex Silveri
Infinito 2017 – Outer Body Experience 9.0 (Unlimited Supply Chain)
Kings Of Leon – Come Around Sundown (RCA)
Michael Schenker Group – Live In Tokyo: 30th Anniversary Japan Tour (Inakustik)
Hannah Montana – Hannah Montana Forever [Soundtrack] (Walt Disney Records)
Morrissey – Bona Drag: 20th Anniversary Edition (EMI Import)
Mt. Desolation – Mt. Desolation (Island/Cherry Tree)
Steven Page [Barenaked Ladies] – Page One (Zoe

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As far as rock bands go, they don’t really come any more profit-oriented than KISS.

It’s decades now since the New York glam pioneers cottoned onto the idea, first articulated by the Rolling Stones, that nostalgia is the true money pit, that unabashedly playing the hits year-on-year to the same audience is a far more profitable well than the whole “recording new music” deal. In the last decade, the KISS and the Stones have released no fewer than two full albums between them, suggesting recorded music may not be a priority for them.

Which makes it all the more unusual that Gene Simmons, The Demon himself, continually manages to get himself caught up in disputes with illegal downloaders. Granted, he has a lot of albums in the can, but very few of them are actually sold in record stores, and it’s difficult to imagine the torrent sites buzzing with excitement over the latest 320kbps rip of Hot in the Shade or Revenge. You’d feel he might be better off leaving the record sales to the people who make records and stick to the pursuit of the midlife crisis dolla.

This week, though, he’s managed to outdo himself. Not only has he continued to voice his support for suing illegal filesharers (an approach even the RIAA has abandoned), he’s threatened to sue Anonymous – yes, the online community of teenage bigots and paedophiles – and have it/them jailed for launching a brute force Denial of Service attack on…

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Calabasas, California rockers Incubus have been performing a new track, entitled ‘Surface To Air,’ on recent tour dates in South America.

This splendidly clear video footage was shot at the Santiago stop (that’s in Chile, for the benefit of all of you living in that space between Mexico and Canada) on October 8.

The band are currently working on their seventh album, their first since 2006’s Light Grenades, which is planned for release some time next year.

Thanks to user DoubtGin for the tip.

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